“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18)
Love cannot pretend. It cannot hide. Your life is very often defined by the object of your love. If you do not love your work, you would soon think of quitting. Before handing over the flock to Peter, Jesus needed to question Peter’s love. If Peter did not love Jesus more than everything else in life, his ministry would have suffered.
When we love, we are able to bear whatever suffering or pain that may result from that which we love. No matter how hot the kitchen may be, a woman who loves cooking will not step out. Jesus knowing how hot the task of leadership would be and the persecutions ahead needed to be sure that Peter truly loved him more than anything else.
For all those times, Peter would have to suffer, the only thing that would keep him going is the memory of his triple “yes” to Jesus’ question. Love is patient and kind; love takes no record of records; love never ends; love never gives up. Jesus even went as far as predicting the kind of death Peter would die; how he would stretch his hands while others will tie his belt and take him where he does not wish to go. Note that Jesus does not promise Peter any reward for what he would have to suffer. Jesus simply repeated the same words he said to Peter when he first called him: “Follow Me.”
Do I love God? Am I willing to let go of everything else for His sake even when I am to get nothing in return? In truth, if I do not love God above everything else in this life, I would not be able to withstand whatever sacrifices my Christian faith would demand.
Going through our first reading, we find the story of Paul who was held in prison for the sake of the Gospel. His case is now pending for the emperor. King Agrippa reports Paul to Festus, the Roman Governor, how he tried to settle the matter only for Paul’s accusers to start disputing among themselves meanwhile he couldn’t find him guilty of any evil. Even in his reportage, King Agrippa displays his lack of understanding and faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul for his part did not seem too disturbed, as he said to the Ephesians, “I have played my part, I am innocent of the blood of you all, (meaning: I am ready for anything now, even death).” Like Paul, have you suffered or are you currently suffering anything for the sake of your Christian Faith? If yes, consider it a time to re-examine your love for Jesus.
Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit and Fill my heart, enkindle in me the fire of your love. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 25:13-21, Ps. 103:1-2,11-12,19-20, John 21:15-19)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu